Responding to a question from a Zimbabwean concerned by what is happening in Zambia where citizens claim that the nation is being colonized by China through loans amounting to billions of dollars, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe is focusing on capital projects that generate funds for repaying Chinese loans.
Mnangagwa, who is in USA for the United Nations General Assembly and was addressing a gathering attended by Zimbabweans, said there is no need to abandon friends in good times.
“You have some fear emanating from our relations with the People’s Republic of China and fear is on what has happened to Zambia. Assuming that we do know the same and you know more than I do, I would reply relating to relations between Zimbabwe and China without mentioning Zambia. During the period of isolation very few nations outside the West assisted us. Some of the notable countries which came to our assistance were China, India, Brazil, Russia … And when things are good you don’t then forget your friends who stood with you during bad times. But you don’t sell your country because someone stood with you during bad times.
“All what is necessary when you get any loans for investment is that it must be structured. There are capital loans for investing in projects which can refinance themselves to pay the loans not based on the fiscus.”
He said Chinese loans are being effectively used to cater for Zimbabwe while generating funds for repaying loans.
“I went to the Republic of China in April and requested for support for (revamping) Hwange seven and eight plants costing about $1,2 billion. And the funds have come and we have starred drawing down on that amount. But the 600 megawatts we are going to get in 24 months’ time off the national grid it’s going to pay for itself for the next 15 years. Nothing is going to come from (state) finance. So, I don’t see any danger where you have a project which becomes productive in terms of revenue streams to pay for itself.”
He also cited another income-generating project in Kariba financed through Chinese loans as beneficial to Zimbabweans in the long run.
“We have also the Kariba South Extension where I think in January we commissioned it. It has put 300 megawatts into the (national energy) grid and we are paying because we are using electricity. The difference is that if we did not have that we would have been importing the 300 megawatts from South Africa and paying South Africa. But now we have the assets in Zimbabwe and even when we finish paying the loan … the assets will remain with us and we will continue using it. I don’t see the danger there but because you are younger you may see more than I do. Come and advise me where I do wrong. I’m a listening president …”
Zambians are fuming over the ballooning national debt, largely dominated by Chinese loans, saying their country is being colonized by the Asian nation, which is now the largest investor in the nation.
They claim that most public tenders are awarded to Chinese bidders and in Lusaka and other parts of the country China is busy constructing airports, roads, factories and police stations.
These projects are being implemented through Chinese loans amounting to billions of dollars.
According to the Associated Press, Zambian president Edgar Lunga has hit back at critics saying such “misleading headlines … seek to malign our relationship with China by mischaracterizing our economic cooperation to mean colonialism.”
The opposition United Party for National Development has described the replacement of Zambian workers with Chinese labourers as “a time bomb”.
Local people are also unhappy over being allegedly beaten up a work by the Chinese for failing to follow simple instructions, noting that their country is being slowly colonized by the Asian nation.